CineSavant Column

Tuesday May 22, 2018


In my review last week of Espionage Agent I vented my opinions about pre-war studio difficulties in making anti-Nazi movies, what with the isolationism and (I think) pro-German political climate then in the country. What I didn’t say, that several readers pointed out, is that some of the pro-isolation noise came from liberals and communists, at the time reacting to Hitler’s brief pact with Stalin. So thanks for keeping me straight there.

A reaction from Dick Dinman was to give me an early listen to his two new DVD Classics Corner On the Air show online talks with author Ben Urwand about his nonfiction book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler, which, to quote the always dramatic Mr. Dinman, “chronicles the shocking depths to which all of the major studios sunk during the ’30s in order to maintain business with Hitler and his minions.” The second show includes praise for Ernst Lubitsch’s crazy comedy To Be Or Not To Be. The show comes in two halves, Part One and Part Two.

The following is an actual friends-of-Savant kidding & harassment email chain, with only the names redacted. Make of it what you will.

Friend #2: Obviously I’m not telling you guys something you don’t know, but I took the frame grab that was on Glenn’s page, imported it into Photoshop and hit “auto correct,” and didn’t do anything else to it. It could still use some finessing, but are the Italians really saying they think the top one is the way it should look? I don’t read the forums, what’s been the general reaction to it?

Friend #1: Reaction is mixed. The majority are saying things along the lines of “the Italians have screwed up again”, but there are people who are happy with it.

Glenn: That first yellow-green image was taken straight from the Italian restoration website. In my column from May 19 Stefan Andersson gave me a dozen links to various forum pages, restoration news with frame grabs, etc. There’s another European disc from 2007 that people seem to like.

Friend #1: There’s some nutcase on the Leone forums who thinks you should be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail for not knowing about the other Fistful of Dollars disc, the ‘Ripley’ version. How dare you not keep track of every international release of every title!

Glenn: Hah! You know how ill-informed I am, about most everything . . . Tell him I’ll put my eyes out to atone for my crime.

Friend #1: You were also guilty of daring to suggest that professionals sometimes know more than fanboys. Absurd! Don’t you know that obsessive geeks posting on the internet, with no experience handling film but lots of experience fiddling with Photoshop, are the true geniuses, and that all the studios should be consulting them on every restoration project???

Friend #2: Heeeeeey, wait a minute. I resemble that remark! I’m a professional AND I fiddle with Photoshop! Watch your step, sonny boy!

I burst on fire if I visit the forums so I won’t check out what they’re saying about Glenn. Are they referencing the 2007 2K restoration that’s out on Ripley Home Video? I forgot I had that, but ran it last night out of curiosity. It’s good, maybe a little too ‘smooth’, making it look like a more recent film. But the color timing is certainly more believable than the frame grabs from the new ‘restoration.’

Friend #1: Yes, they were referencing the Ripley disc. What is Glenn’s lame excuse for not buying that Ripley disc back in 2007? He should have known there would be a new U.S. disc with a different restoration in 2018. Frankly, I’m shocked that you still agree to have anything to do with Glenn!

Glenn: That’s it. I’ve been found out, and there’s no way I can face the angry mob now that it knows the extent of my crime. I’m too emotional to write a suicide note, so don’t bother going through my pockets when you find me under the bridge. “It’s too Yell-ooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”

Well, I still think my friends are funny. Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson